Noticing Magic Everywhere

Kate Comings' journal

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A Kitchen Moment


In the north window, one last orchid
wilts and falls: a shriveled moth.
Phalaenopsis, it’s called.

The plant rests–
flat, sturdy leaves like cows’ tongues.
I watch for a new sprout
but orchids take their own time.
They never hurry.

After a late frost, beyond the window
roses leaf out in an explosion of green.
Rosebuds appear overnight.
Solomon’s seals are even quicker–
An inch or two in a day.

For the orchid,
one millisecond lasts an hour,
progress of sap through xylem and phloem
too slow to imagine, while in my veins
my own blood hurtles.
Time gets away from me
but the orchid rests in its own time.

I tear open a cellophane “Kumato” package–
tomatoes all in a row. I pull one out,
dark brown with hints of green, and
like the orchid plant, it came from a greenhouse
and has never known a garden.
I slice it over a bowl
to catch every bit of the sweet juice.
A bit of salt, a sprinkle of black pepper.

Now is the only tomato there is.

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The Long Wait is Over

Zen Flowers Kindle

Kindle Version

Late Tuesday night, I checked the Amazon site one more time. The Kindle version was there at last. I ordered it right away and uploaded it to the Kindle app on my iPad. I was afraid it would be a jumbled mess, but it looks fine. What a relief!

Both versions are now available, and Zen Flowers is officially launched.

What, and who, will I write about next?

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CreateSpace and the Transitory Nature of All Things

From Zen Flowers: Doug circles the flower arrangement on my coffee table, contemplating the broken horsetail stalks and red petals scattered over the ebony wood surface. I cleared everything off the table for maximum effect and moved the completed arrangement from the kitchen into the living room. The cat hasn’t destroyed it yet; if she does, it will merely reflect the transitory nature of all things.
Doug frowns. “Looks sort of grim. What’s it about?”
“Impermanence.” I shrug, like it’s not important.
“Uh, say what?”

Zen Flowers, also the title of my upcoming book, is a florist shop. Sabina, the owner and a Zen practitioner, is all about impermanence after the many losses she has experienced.

The irony of it. I expected CreateSpace, the publishing platform I have used for my past three books, would be the same. Writing Zen Flowers was hard. I was trying to tie up all the threads created in the first three books in the series and leave my characters in a good place. It was sprawling and disorganized, and I despaired of ever publishing it. I told everyone it was a hot mess and put it aside for a few months before I went back and rewrote the whole thing, and revised, and edited… and finally, it all came together. I thought I was done with the actual book. I uploaded it to CreateSpace, had them assign it an ISBN number, and called them to order a new cover and the same beautiful interior formatting they had given my previous books, part of what they called their “professional services.” I thought I was done, but that wonderful CreateSpace staff has been laid off, and the formatting and cover design are gone, even though they are still offered on the website. Everything is changing.

Since then, nothing has run smoothly. CreateSpace didn’t like the cover, even though it was the same resolution and exactly the same file size as the previous covers CreateSpace had done. It took three uploads of the same cover, with different complaints about each one, before they accepted it, and the book went to print.

The Kindle version was a similar experience, and another formatting nightmare er… challenge. And the cover? This time they said it wasn’t RBG, whatever that is. A couple more uploads of the same file, though, and it was fine, but I’m still waiting for the Kindle version to show up for sale. This sort of thing is a serious (brutal) lesson in impermanence. Amazon, once a boon to indie authors, is not as friendly anymore.

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Upcoming New Book

Front Cover JPG

Available soon!

“She lost her family, and now her relationship is over, too. Can a woman be more alone? Sabina doubts it. But she’s living her dream. Zen Flowers, her West Village floral shop, is hers if she can only keep it afloat… and that’s turning out to be a big problem.

Brendan was blindsided when Sabina told him it was over. She wanted to start a family, but he’s terrified of the responsibilities that come with children. His life wouldn’t be his own anymore. But going on without Sabina? He can’t bear that, either.

Swamped with book offers after a harrowing hostage experience, photojournalist Niall starts writing. It’s harder than he realized, and he longs to be out on assignment, traveling the world. He doesn’t know yet that his ex-wife is about to arrive with an ugly secret that could leave his family in ruins.”

It has been a while since I posted; between Zen Flowers rewrites, walking 10,000 steps most days, and gardening (the weeds are relentless), my days have been full. Finally, the book was ready. Amazon has always walked me through the process of getting my books out for people to read, and I called them to order a cover design and have them format the interior–what a nasty surprise. They no longer do that; they have changed to a “do it yourself” model. The tech support person did email the names of a few companies that do design book covers.

Suddenly, “Indie publishing” really became indie publishing–a huge challenge for the likes of me.

Totally derailed, I freaked out for a day or two. Then I decided to try and format the actual pages myself, as I had already uploaded the manuscript before finding out they wouldn’t format it. It was incredibly complicated and took days of endless trial and error, but I learned how to format a book in Microsoft Word–not the design application of choice, but it was all I had. After researching book design companies, I ordered a cover. I received the cover design this morning and couldn’t be happier!

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Goodbye Sapphire 💙

On a Monday, in the dark, wee hours of the morning, the dogs jolted me awake with a barking frenzy. Shortly after they quieted, someone knocked at the door and set them off again. I froze for a minute, scared. I thought someone was breaking in. Then I decided I’d better have a look around. I got out of bed, quickly dressed, and went to the door to see if anyone was there. I looked out the window and saw Sapphire, my blue Toyota—wrecked—and another car. I thought the knock had been the person who hit my car, but it was a police officer. He told me there’d been a hit and run. Bill across the street heard the crash and got up in time to see the SUV that hit my car backing all the way down the street, fleeing the scene in reverse. Bill called the police.

My car was demolished. The SUV hit it head-on at a high speed and smashed the front end and pushed it maybe 50 feet so it was blocking the driveway next door.


It was not a good way to wake up.

The insurance company sent over an appraiser, and a tow truck came the next day and took Sapphire away. I felt, and still feel, just sick about it. It was a wonderful car and would have lasted the rest of my life. It had low mileage on it and from that standpoint, it was still practically new. It didn’t deserve what happened to it.

I tried to console myself. The car was grungy after the wet Portland winter, and I’d been about to make an appointment to have it detailed. It needed gas and was due for DMV renewal. It would be worse if it got wrecked after I forked out all the money for that. And I’m very, very glad I didn’t total the car myself. The last time I totaled a car, I was devastated. This time, it wasn’t my fault, and I was able to buy another Toyota. I told myself it could have been a lot worse.

I had to get all my belongings out of the car and say goodbye. I was sad; that car was my horse and she was a wonderful, loyal steed. Ever since I saw the movie, “Powwow Highway,” with Gary Farmer, my cars have been horses, with names. Gary Farmer’s car/horse was “Protector.” My blue Corolla was “Sapphire.”

It was hard to switch to car-buying mode. I had to think about what I wanted. I do most of my driving around town and need something economical. I now have a Prius. It’s a bluish-gray-green color called “Sea Glass.” I decided online that I wanted that color, and they only had one “Sea Glass,” so I lucked out. Compared to my previous cars, this one is a thoroughbred, a racehorse. I named it “Sea Biscuit.”

Sea Biscuit

My old car was a 2004, and cars have changed. Sea Biscuit is totally digital, a computer on wheels with an unfamiliar OS—like my first Windows or my first Mac, only with driving, seriously pushing the edges of my comfort zone. Lying in bed, I remembered that I decided a long time ago to do things outside my comfort zone as often as I can—and here is my chance! I discovered that when I take my time and pay attention, driving the new car is really no problem. Just different.

Farewell, Sapphire. You were the best car I had, and I’m so very, very sorry.